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An ancient Sufi proverb states that, “When the heart grieves what it has lost, the spirit rejoices over what it has left.” After suffering the loss of three family members, and mourning a high school friend’s passing for decades, AMI student, Ira Baumgarten, decided to channel his grief into a labor of love that would support fellow grief sufferers.
Conceptualized in 2012 following the death of Baumgarten’s mother, A Night on Buddy’s Bench: An End of Life Story tells the story of an unnamed resident of a tiny island off the coast of Maine reflecting on his life and calling upon ghosts past and present to comfort his grief.
The 17 page hardcover book includes 16 watercolor illustrations by Baumgarten’s mother-in-law, Ann Bonville Trombly. Just as the mourning process can be a family affair, so can the creative process. Ira’s wife, Nadine (also an AMI student), contributed to the project as the manuscript’s editor.
Accompanied by an audio book that includes music and an interview with Baumgarten, A Night on Buddy’s Bench provides quiet comfort to those coping with loss. The CD also includes a reading of the book by Tony Lopez and the song “Oh Sun I Love You So.” The interview with Baumgarten was conducted by award-winning playwright Sharon Cooper.
As a thank you to the dedicated caregivers who supported Ira and his family through their experiences with loss and grieving, all profits from A Night on Buddy’s Bench: An End of Life Story will be donated to The National Hospice Foundation and The American Meditation Institute.
A Night on Buddy’s Bench emerged from our family’s experience with death. Within a period of just a few months, we lost Esther, my highly functional ninety-three-year-old mom; Rose, our adorable three-year-old cousin; and our very vital seventy-eight-year-old Aunt Kay. We were fortunate to be supported by wonderful Hospice caregivers, who helped us begin to let go of fear and learn instead to be present to our loved ones’ end-of-life journeys.
We hope that reading, listening to, and sharing A Night on Buddy’s Bench helps you and your loved ones reflect upon and honor the end of life and transition to death as a sacred place and time.
For more information, please visit A Night on Buddy’s Bench